The Official Sponsor of Birthdays

These days, you’re hard pressed to find someone whose life hasn’t, in some way, been touched by cancer. To raise funds for advocacy, research and support, the American Cancer Society has recently positioned themselves as the “Official Sponsor of Birthdays” by providing viewers with a glimpse of how their donations are making a difference and allowing people to celebrate more birthdays.

This poignant spot for the ACS opens with an image of a birthday cake topped with candles. Several scenes are then shown from birthday celebrations of people from different walks of life.  Children break celebratory piñatas. A group of professionals present their coworker with a birthday cake delivered to her cubicle. A neighborhood is filled with inflatable bouncers for a child’s birthday. A young woman shows delight as her loved ones surprise her with a birthday party.

As these images of celebration dance across the screen, viewers are asked to: “Imagine a world with more birthdays. Imagine a world where cancer is scarce. 11 million survivors show the progress we’ve made. And prove that it’s not just a dream. We’re the American Cancer Society. The official sponsor of birthdays.”

In addition to the television spots, the American Cancer Society has also built a birthday-themed microsite where users can send e-cards, create a birthday page and download an ACS Birthday Kit with tips for a great birthday. And of course, the site makes it easy to make a “birthday donation.” In addition, the ACS is dabbling in social media by recently launching special Facebook and Twitter accounts where folks can show their support, donate and declare the American Cancer society the official sponsor of their birthdays. And they’ve even got a blog where people can get birthday tips and share birthday stories.

I love this campaign. It’s a departure from the typical spots for non-profit organizations that focus on the bad. We’ve all heard them. “Every minute, x number of people are diagnosed with cancer” or “100 shelter dogs will be euthanized this very hour if you don’t call immediately.” Instead, it focuses on the joy and possibility made possible by the tireless work of the American Cancer Society (and the generosity of donors) in their effort to eliminate cancer by means of prevention, education, support and early detection. It focuses on the positive things the American Cancer Society does and dares viewers to imagine a world where more people can celebrate their birthdays each year. For potential donors, it puts a face on what the American Cancer Society can do with donations. And what better symbol of life is there than a birthday party?

The American Cancer Society is doing awesome work to save lives touched by cancer. And the numbers prove that their work is paying off. According to a press release put out by the society, they’ve successfully contributed to a 15 percent decrease in the cancer death rate since the 1990’s. And 11 million survivors in the U.S. will have a birthday this year.  I think that’s something worth celebrating.

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